Pittsburgh Pirates Roundtable #8

Question #1:
Did the BBWAA put in the right guys last Tuesday? Would you have done anything differently?

Randy from Buried Treasure:
Ripken and Gwynn were clearly first ballot candidates. I’m in the school of thought that says Ripken is overrated, but he’s a great player nonetheless. If it were up to me, Blyleven, Dawson, Gossage, Morris and Lee Smith would be in. I also would have voted for McGwire. I argued on my blog that by comparing Mac to Harmon Killebrew and Eddie Mathews (neither of whom were first ballot inductees), you can make the case that Mac’s numbers, with or without steroids, don’t warrant first ballot induction. What happened yesterday set a dangerous precedent. The whisper of scandal is sometimes worse than the scandal itself. Perhaps Mac should, like Pete Rose, write a tell-all book and release it this time next year. I’m not trying to say that McGwire should’ve taken illegal steroids, if in fact he did. He was morally wrong, if he did do it, even if he was competitively correct. If any members of the BBWAA wrote a glowing story about Mac in 1998 and didn’t vote for him yesterday, they should donate a commensurate portion of their salary from 1998 to the Roberto Clemente Ciudad Deportivo in Puerto Rico as a punishment for their hypocrisy.

Dave from Bucs Trade Winds:

How could they go wrong with Gwynn and Ripken? Even a blind monkey named Dave Littlefield could get that one right. The only difference I would have liked to see is Gossage getting those last few votes he deserves to enter the HOF.
Pat from WHYGAVS:
Obviously, it’s impossible to argue with Gwynn and Ripken. With Bruce Sutter getting inducted last year, Goose Gossage should’ve gotten in this year, but with 71% of the vote this year he’ll almost certainly get in next year, so what’s the point of arguing? I do think Mark McGwire should’ve been elected this year. It’s not the writer’s job to police what baseball didn’t police and it’s not fair to make one man a scapegoat for an entire era in baseball, as I think may happen for McGwire. Time will tell on him, I suppose. There’s also Blyleven, whom many others have made a much more eloquent case for than I could, but 287 wins, 3701 strikeouts, and a 1.19 WHIP over 22 seaons should speak for itself.
Jim from Sportsocracy:
The baseball writers got it right and got it wrong this year. Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn are no-brainers and anyone who didn’t vote for them should have their credentials revoked. I personally, would have voted for Mark McGwire. My stance on the issue is, while his behavior after retiring is ridiculous and damning, he didn’t break any rules while he played because their were none in regards to what he was (or was not) taking at the time. The use of performance enhancers for both hitters and pitchers in the 90s is probably more far reaching than we’ll ever know. I kinda think we should just go forward assuming that the playing field at that time was level, though elevated, and still celebrate the greats of that era.

Andrew/azibuck commentor from Bucs Dugout:

I look at the HOF two different ways–1) should a player be in based on whether I think he was truly great enough, and 2) should he be in based on who is already in. Based on #1, the only guy I would have added besides Ripken and Gwynn was McGwire. Based on #2, Rice, Blyleven and Gossage also belong. I would have put McGwire in. I’m certain he took steroids, but I’m not certain the playing field was level–meaning, it may have been. Mark McGwire was a feared slugger his whole career. Steroids probably inflated his numbers, but not to the extent that would have kept him from being one of the top few sluggers in his era. I get the protest vote, but I wouldn’t have done it.

Steve from The Parrot:

How can there be any argument with the selection of Cal Ripken and Tony Gwynn? I was more annoyed at the eight voters who didn’t select Ripken and the two publicity whores that submitted blank ballots in a snit about steroids. It would have been nice to see Gossage and Blyleven get in. Their careers are worthy, and they did nothing to harm the “sanctity” of the game like Dave Parker and possibly Mark McGwire.
Cory from A New Pirates Generation:
The archaic voting system that Cooperstown uses needs to be changed. At one point in time members of the media were the only capable judges of the legitimacy of player’s career. Technology has changed in the last 80 years. Perhaps it’s time to tweak the ways that we honor the great players of our time. I would expand the pool of voters to include longtime broadcasters, every player with a certain amount of service time, and similar individuals with intimate connections to the game. Each player would get one shot at entry: Either you’re in or you’re out. No way do you get 15 chances to join the likes of Honus Wagner and Babe Ruth. You’re worthy or you’re not.
That having been said, I can’t blame the writers for the system into which they’re placed. They got Ripken and Gwynn right, obviously. I don’t think McGwire was a first ballot HOF’er based on his numbers–1600 hits doesn’t cut it for me–and as long as that’s the reason he didn’t get in, then I don’t have a beef. Gossage is following the progression of the current system, and he’ll be in within the next couple years. I would assume that if this would’ve been his last year on the ballot more writers would’ve checked his name off their ballots.
Question #2:
Who is the best eligible player not in the Hall of Fame? The best Pirate?

Randy from Buried Treasure:
Without giving this much thought, I’d say Ron Santo is the best player not in the Hall of Fame, followed by Bert Blyleven. The best Pirate not in the Hall of Fame is Dave Parker, followed by Johnny Ray. Okay, maybe not Johnny Ray, more likely followed by Al Oliver. Wilbur Cooper and Sam Leever, The Goshen Schoolmaster, would probably be in that discussion.
Dave from Bucs Trade Winds:
Jim Rice is probably the best eligible player on the ballot. To take it a step further, I think Dan Quisenberry is the best player, of my era, not on the ballot nor in the Hall. The sympathetic part of me leans toward Tommy John. How many players actually have a surgery named after them? If that doesn’t get you in the Hall, his stats surely should. The best player ever not enshrined is Roger Maris.
The best Pirate not inducted is difficult from a list that includes Blyleven, Gossage, Parker, Madlock and Teke. I would have to select Gossage, he was easily the most dominant and intimidating pitcher of his era. I believe Gossage defines the term closer. When I think of a Hall of Famer, I think of a player like him. I don’t need to look at stats to answer Gossage.
Pat from WHYGAVS:
There are a couple people you can make the case for “best eligible player not in the Hall.” Gossage was a dominant reliever, Blyleven was a great starter often stuck on mediocre teams and McGwire has the highest AB/HR ratio in history. As for best Pirate, does Gossage count? He only pitched one year for us so I’d lean towards “no.” Blyleven is another one, but he only pitched three mediocre years for us and I’d guess he’ll go into the Hall with a Twins cap on if he ever gets in. Dave Parker will never get in and I don’t think he deserves to, but if Andre Dawson and Jim Rice do (and people are pushing hard for both of them), then Parker should get a lot more consideration.
Jim from Sportsocracy:
I think Jim Rice is easily the best eligible player not in the HOF. He was a dominant hitter in his time and I have a hard time understanding why he’s not in. His last shot is in 2009, so hopefully that will get him the extra 12% or so of votes he needs to be elected. Goose Gossage is probably the next Pirate that’ll actually get into the HOF, but I’ve always had a soft spot for Dave Parker. Parker was a fearsome hitter and had the most explosive arm I’ve ever seen from a Pirate outfielder (Roberto not withstanding). His drug problems and what not partially derailed a career that could have been truly remarkable (though not quite HOF, in my opinion) and that’s a real shame. He still retired with very good numbers but not nearly what they should have been, had he taken the high road.

Andrew/azibuck commentor from Bucs Dugout:

Best player not in the Hall: Rice. He was a dominant player who unfortunately lost his batting eye earlier than most. Best Pirate, I’ll go Al Oliver, a productive player for a long time. I’m not counting Blyleven because he wasn’t a Pirate for long, and I’m not really familiar with pre-1960′s Pirates.

Steve from The Parrot:

The best Pirate not in the HOF is Dave Parker. I remember the cocaine trials well, and it dismayed me that they were held in Pittsburgh, which with Parker’s participation killed his chances with the Hall. Keith Hernandez should be in the Hall, too, but he’s damaged goods as well. A cokehead and a sexist.
Cory from A New Pirates Generation:
If I had a vote, I’d be one of those baby-faced writers that had to make selections based solely on stats and hearsay. If I go by players from my era, I suppose that McGwire and Lee Smith would be the candidates. McGwire’s 70 homer season captured the attention of a nation; Smith’s 478 career saves set a benchmark for closers. Still, they both have their drawbacks: McGwire only had 1600 career hits, and Smith’s ERA was mediocre. I would probably abstain, as I don’t think it’s right that voters turn in ballots having never seen a guy between the lines. Stats can only take you so far–sometimes you need the eye test to learn the full story on a player.
The best Pirate not enshrined again gives me difficulties. I saw Bobby Bo play, and I’m fairly certain it isn’t him. I wish Doug Drabek had better career numbers. How about Jim Leyland?

Author: PLCArchives

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